Category Archives: Reading with Purpose

Poetry at Home

Does your family read poetry at home? Poetry, one of the forms of literature studied in school, can be fun and exciting to read. Support your child’s poetry learning by reading poetry yourself and sharing poems with your child.

Common Core Standard

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text. (from


  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
  • Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost, Gary D. Schmidt and Susan Jeffers
  • Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickenson, Francis Schoonmaker Bolin
  • Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, David Roessel, Arnold Rampersad, Benny Andrews
  • Poems to Learn by Heart, Caroline Kennedy, Jon J. Muth

Poetry Vocabulary to Review

poem, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, onomatopoeia, imagery, refrain, verse, free verse, blank verse, stanza, theme


  1. Poetry Week. As a family read one poem a week during dinner. Take turns selecting a favorite poem. Read it and discuss what it means together. Share opinions and offer interpretations.
  2. Night Time Reading. Once a week, substitute your regular night time picture book with a book of poems for children. Read the poems and talk about what they mean.
  3. Family Poem. Write your own family poem. Take a familiar poem and keep the basic structure. Change the words to describe your family or a shared adventure. One suggestion is to use the familiar poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” You can also complete this activity with a favorite song.
  4. Poetry and Songs. Don’t forget that some of our favorite poems are set to music! Pay attention to the lyrics of a song together and find four poetry vocabulary words that apply.
  5. Favorite Poems Book. Have every member of the family pick a favorite poem. Write it out and illustrate it. Compile the poems and the illustrations into a book.
  6. Memorize a Poem. After each family member memorizes a favorite poem, have a poetry reading. Serve snacks and create a stage somewhere in your house. Take turns giving a dramatic presentation of the poem.

Cinderella Tales

Common Core Standard

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text. (from

Cinderella Tales

Cinderella tales are well-known in many cultures around the world. It has been estimated that more than 1,000 different versions exist today. The earliest record of a similar tale is from China in the middle of the 9th century A.D. The story, with many variations, usually involves a young girl (or boy) in a difficult situation. A benevolent figure helps the young person, and there are usually elements of magic. The story ends with a reversal of fortune for the main character.

Cinderella, the common name for these tales in English, has become a description often used for people who experience a similar rags to riches story. It has become a cultural reference that children should know and understand.

There are many delightful books that offer the chance for children to support their school learning at home by comparing, contrasting, discussing, summarizing, and analyzing the Cinderella story. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Bubba, the Cowboy Prince, Helen Ketteman
  2. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters,John Steptoe
  3. Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying! Trisha Speed Shaskan
  4. Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story From China, Ai-Ling Louie
  5. Prince Cinders, Babette Cole
  6. The Persian Cinderella, Shirley Climo

These are just a few from a wide selection of wonderful Cinderella stories. Read them together to discuss similarities, differences, and preferences. Afterwards, write and illustrate your own Cinderella story as a family.

A Bad Day

Does your child ever have a bad day? How do you help them deal with it? Books are one way to talk about bad days and to brainstorm about how to handle them.

These picture books are easy to read but great for any child, as the themes and lessons are ageless. The activities or discussion ideas are simple and appropriate for a wide range of ages.


Activity Ideas

1. Research Australia. After reading Viorst’s book, talk about how people have bad days all over the world. Research Australia by going to the library or looking it up online. Would a person living there have fewer bad days? If you could pick any place in the world to have a bad day, where would it be and why?

2. Mood Chart. Read about moods and then make a chart by folding a piece of paper in half and then in half again. Title the first column “moods” and list the moods that you read about in the book. Title the second column “Identify” and list ways you can identify this mood in yourself. Title the third column “Change” and list ways you can change your moods. Be creative. If your mood is happy, for instance, you could write that cleaning the entire house by yourself is a mood changer. Title the fourth column “celebrate.” How can you celebrate, understand, and experience your mood even if it is sad or angry?

3. Feelings and Words. After reading about feelings try to write down the feelings that you often have. Try to come up with creative ways to describe those feelings. Compare them to foods or animals or colors. Talk about how you feel inside. Write down a few sentences about five feelings and then use those sentences the next time you need to communicate your feelings.